When patients with Spina Bifida or Cerebral Palsy are performing physical therapy exercises, the knee and elbow skin areas are subjected to tremendous stress, which can often result in severe friction burns, also known as mat burn, turf burn, carpet burn or rug burn. Despite being a common issue, it is rarely discussed.
Most of the pain and discomfort of a friction burn is caused by the heat generated from the friction itself, similar to rubbing your hands together and creating heat. Friction burns typically consist of two aspects: skin damage and the burn caused by friction. The scrape needs to be kept clean, free from infection, and bandaged, while the burn needs to be kept cool with access to air flow and protected from further friction damage.
To treat a friction burn, start by cleaning the wound with antibacterial ointment or spray to prevent infection. Next, cool the burn by holding the affected area under cold water or soaking it in cold water. However, do not use ice, ice water, or water cold enough to be icy, as it can worsen the burn. Apply more antiseptic to keep the skin damage-free from infection until the scrape or skin abrasions close up and heal normally. If you start to see pus blisters or the clear scab material turns yellow, seek medical attention immediately.
When deciding whether to wear a bandage during recovery, consider three conditions: whether the wound can form a scab, whether it needs protection, and whether it is under your clothes. If the wound can form a scab, it is best to heal in the open air, but if it can't, you'll need protection. If the wound is under your clothes, you will need to loosely tape a soft bandage over the area to protect your tender skin from further damage caused by friction.
To prevent friction burns altogether, consider using appropriate soft knee pads, lubricating ointment, or powder when performing physical therapy activities. By catching the signs early and taking preventive measures, you can avoid another friction burn in the future.
Our KneeBees knee and elbow pads are a popular recommendation among patients and doctors for preventing friction burns during physical therapy.
Here are some of the most popular knee pads for physical therapy.